Given how informed and self-directed customers are today, a consultative sales approach is the best strategy for financial services salespeople, especially those in the institutional markets.
For many salespeople, however, consultative selling gives them the unsettling feeling that they’re trying to steer two different boats, with one foot in each.
The first boat is customer intelligence. Questions salespeople need to be able to answer about their customers include:
Who are their best prospects and customers, and why?
What are their roles and responsibilities within their firms?
What are their pain points, requirements, preferences and purchasing plans?
What competitors are they considering, and how should they counter those potential threats?
To answer these questions, salespeople need solid, up-to-date customer intelligence. But finding this data is often difficult and time-consuming for reps. And rolling it all up into intelligence that they can readily use is even harder.
So the customer intelligence boat floats off in one direction.
The second boat is carrying content, including all of the various the marketing collateral, sales tools and support materials that firms provide to their sales teams. It takes time and effort for reps to stay on top of this content and use the latest, approved materials. With other priorities, however, salespeople sometimes fall behind and wind up using outdated or off-brand materials.
That’s when the content boat starts drifting in another direction.
Salespeople need to keep one foot solidly positioned in each of these boats, because both are critically important to their success. Customer intelligence generally lives in CRM systems. Content is increasingly being stored and managed in sales enablement systems. The financial services firms that put their sales reps in position to leverage these resources in tandem will gain real competitive advantages. Delivering the right content to the right customer at the right time makes a difference.
The customer dynamic has clearly changed over the past several years, and salespeople need to change along with it. All indications are that consultative selling is the best-suited strategy for this new sales environment. Content that educates and informs, that is relevant to a customer’s specific needs or interests, and that is appropriate for where that customer is in the sales cycle, can significantly advance the buying process.
Financial services firms should link these two boats together by integrating sales enablement functionality with their CRM systems. Doing so will keep sales teams afloat and give them a sound way to navigate toward their sales goals.